Click fraud can negatively influence search engines and affect Internet marketers adversely. Types of click fraud include competitive click fraud, network click fraud, and misclassified traffic.
These issues can lower the value of a click stream, thus driving some marketers to decrease their bids or remove their presence from the market. Impression fraud misleads search engines by ranking some listings (which count CTR) higher against impressions through ranking algorithms.
Click fraud harms everyone, except for its propagators, who reap unfair benefits from the practice. The latest SEMPO research has found out that:
- 45% of marketers surveyed are wary about click fraud but do not track it;
- 19% of those surveyed think that it is a reasonable concern and do track it;
- 6% of these marketers track it, thinking of click fraud as a major concern, and
- 31% of all surveyed were not concerned or have not heard of click fraud.
Network Click Fraud
Network click fraud happens if a search engine or small publisher that manages paid contextual or placement findings involves itself in creating or misrepresenting clicks delivered to a network partner.
If a network partner engages in human or robotic methods of making clicks, lower-quality traffic (compared to traffic from user searches) occurs. Supplementing normal traffic with these contrived interchanges may profit network owners (search engines, for example) at the onset, as the owner and publisher divide generated click revenue.
Quality traffic should still be the network owner’s priority. The majority of Internet marketers quantifies traffic worth and modifies campaigns through quality criteria. In any market sector, click prices decrease when substandard traffic increases. The rest of the network’s publishers are harmed.
- A network with members that diminish the quality of network clicks may lose profit if they wish to continue doing business with quality publishers.
- Gather evidence and show the material to representatives of the search engine if there are doubts as to the quality of a search engine network.
Competitive Click Fraud
Smaller businesses often encounter competitive click fraud, especially when providing high-value service, which results in elevated CPCs (Cost-equivalent Paid per Click-through). SEM and SEO firms undertake business in marketplaces with high CPC. If the CPC is higher, the effect a competing company has on a particular budget is greater.
A certain CPC exceeds $10, for example. A listing getting one click per day from five users from a competing network member can cost an entity an additional $1,500 payable to the search engines. This added cost supplies no gains whatsoever.
Server logs may show competitor entries which pass through paid links and return a few times. This may be construed as click fraud. SEO-type keyword clicks are costly, and the cutthroat nature of the business may incite animosity between network members, so competitive click fraud may be an attractive recourse for some.
It is possible to identify competitive click fraud. The competitor must have a sophisticated network system. IP address lookups, plus session and cookie tracking, and regulated benchmarking can pinpoint competitive click fraud. Smaller members may not be able to catch click fraud, as they may use Internet connections that cannot identify the practice.
Misbranded traffic is more of a technical issue. This kind of traffic is not contrived or malicious, but an effect of “miscommunication” between contextual and search traffic. Text links from some news sites, for example, are accounted to be search links rather than contextual links.
These two types of links differ according to purpose. Marketers may want to convey a different idea to users who actively seek out the information on the site versus the chance visitors who stumble upon the advertisement. In this situation, the publisher may gain from the high CPCs and CPMs (Cost Per Thousand), but the marketer may not be getting value for money.
Impression fraud is the most recent hazard to face Internet publishers and marketers. AdRank methods establish the significance of an advertisement for many search engines. An abrupt surge in keyword impressions (that occurs while a competing member momentarily halts its campaign) suggests impression fraud. The change in keyword impressions actually takes place without any clicks. Other contending AdRanks ratings may then dwindle significantly. The publisher bides its time, then launches a typical ad with high CTR. Your operation is embedded with disabled or crippled keywords. Thus, the search engine places your ad’s ranking based on invalid information.
The success of search traffic, SEMs, search engines, and the entire SEO industry depends on quality network publishers’ accurately-labeled traffic. It is integral to the growth and staying power of most of these participants. As such, these practices, whether accidental or unscrupulous, must be mitigated in the long run.
Thanks, great article about click fraud ;)
Getting banned at companies like Adsense is a pain in the ass :D
I've heard some contradicting margins on click fraud in google, wonder what are the real figures.
Of course they would never admit, but I suppose you could do tests to find out. Possible some 1-5%
I know many internet marketers, whose Adsense accounts were banned due to click fraud. And in every case, it wasn't the internet marketers fault. What could they have done to prevent it? Nothing. Still Google banned them.
But I do understand Google too. They try to provide fair platform to advertisers and publishers. Too bad some idiots try to ruin it.